I just got back from Taipei tonight. Last Sunday I left the house at 5:30 a.m. to arrive in Taipei at about 9:00 p.m. Monday evening. I had to take my car, then a rental car, then a bus, then a train, then a plane, then a bus, then another plane, and then a bus, and I eventually arrived in Taipei on Monday evening. We had 3 days of productive meetings and then today (Friday) I reversed the process and left Taipei at 7:00 a.m. to arrive back at my house around 7:30 p.m. the same day. It took an equivalent number of vehicles. It takes on average 26 hours door-to-door to make the trip. I’ve been to Taiwan many times in the past few years, making the trip 3 times in 2005 alone.

Taiwan is a very interesting country. I think that in order to succeed as a technology worker in Taiwan, you’d need to have an I.Q. that would register well beyond the genius range. Many Taiwanese people speak 3 languages, and can carry on conversations about nearly any subject, whether it be politics, music, art, business, or technology. In many ways, it’s almost frightening.

At the time I left for Taiwan, Terri left for Germany, and she got back in the U.S. just a few hours ago. I’ve been traveling for 29 hours, she’s only been traveling for 24 hours :-). It feels great to be back home again.

I really miss the U.S.A. whenever I travel. We have so much that you can’t find anywhere else. For example, not everyone realizes that people in the U.S. who want to fly a personal airplane can do it. In most countries, this is considered a privilege associated with some kind of royal class. In the U.S., it’s available to anyone with the desire (and money) to do it. It’s true, flying isn’t cheap, but it’s on par with other hobbies like golf, boating, horses, or traveling. In most other countries it’s so expensive that it’s just out of the question.

My first Wikipedia edit


I’ve been using Wikipedia for a few months and have always been impressed with the breath and accuracy of its entries. However, I was reading through it yesterday and was stunned to find a completely inaccurate description of John Denver’s fatal LongEZ accident in his bio. Even though the cause if the accident is written up by the NTSB and available on the web, here is what the Wikipedia entry about the accident read:

… the design of the aircraft is such that the fuel selector is difficult to reach, being behind the left shoulder of the pilot. Third, on Denver’s aircraft, the fuel selector handle had been replaced with a Vice Grips, complicating operation of the selector further. Finally, due to Denver’s preoccupation with the fuel selector, the aircraft entered a stall, and subsequently, a spin, both conditions of which the Rutan Long-EZ is more unforgiving than aircraft of more conventional design. …

First of all, the fuel valve in a LongEZ built according to plans is very easy to reach, it’s located between the pilots knees. The aircraft John Denver purchased had it installed in a terrible location, making it necessary to put the plane on autopilot to safely operate the valve. Secondly, a LongEZ CANNOT STALL OR SPIN when operated within the c.g. limit and JD’s aircraft was inside this limit. So I edited the entry to read as follows:

… the aircraft’s fuel selector valve was not installed according to the aircraft designer’s plans and was difficult to reach, being behind the left shoulder of the pilot. Third, on Denver’s aircraft, the fuel selector handle had been replaced with a Vise Grips, complicating operation of the selector further. Finally, due to Denver’s preoccupation with the fuel selector, he may have unintentionally put the aircraft into a steep bank. According to the NTSB accident report, the investigators noted a natural reaction for the pilot’s right foot to depress the right rudder pedal when turning in the seat to reach the fuel selector handle. With the right rudder depressed in flight, the airplane would pitch up slightly & bank to the right…

I was rather impressed with how easy it was to correct this information.

Flash is not substance


I rarely go into rants in my blog, but I’ve been listening to the June 3rd podcast from the Gillmor Gang and I guess I’m going to have to make an exception. The ‘gang’ was going into a lot of arcane details about what rich standards will take over the web. I had to consult Wikipedia for many of the esoteric topics like Ajax (not the detergent) and Infopath. To make matters worse, there was definitely a kind of “who’s the smartest man in the room” contest going on among the guests. One of the guests (Jon Udell) was disagreeing with the others in a rather condescending manner and ending every sentence with the word “Right?”, not waiting for any reply, just continuing to monopolize the conversation while seeming to alienate the others. At one point the Steve Gillmor said that he caused the rest of the guests to ‘glaze over’, which was pretty funny because I was glazed over at that point too.

I guess the thing that amazed me most was that they were talking about Adobe in the sense that it had the potential to influence ‘rich web services’ because of their recent acquisition of Macromedia’s Flash technology for $3.4 billion.

A better name for a Macromedia’s “Flash” could not have been selected if they had employed all the consultants in the world. I’m reminded of the expression, “All flash and no substance” and that describes that technology perfectly. The only button I look for on a website that uses flash is the ‘Skip Intro’ button, and if I can’t find one, I leave immediately. How in the world does an inane animation improve someone’s ability to interact with your website? I consider it the height of arrogance to waste my time with a ridiculous animation that has absolutely no point other than to delay me in getting information. It seems that gimmicky companies like to use it, perhaps to cover up the fact that they have no substance worth mentioning. The only legitmate use I’ve seen for flash is to make silly little animations that waste time, both in the creation and in the viewing. I’m guessing that each minute of a Flash animation takes many, many hours to produce, but that pales in comparison to the time wasted while thousands suffer through it if it’s part of your company’s home page. But to think that owning Flash technology will help secure some kind of prominent position in the next generation rich web standards is pure nonsense. Adding ActionScript to Flash does little to more than JavaScript already did for handling forms and why would anyone want to learn yet another scripting language for the web, particularly one that requires a proprietary player that has to be downloaded before the webpage will display?

I will admit that listening to the Gillmor Gang is a much more educational experience than most of the other podcasts out there, even the other tech podcasts, and Jon Udell is a genius, but they really need to work on the guests’ interaction skills to make it more enjoyable.